Physical activity and fitness may be the closest thing modern medicine has to a miracle drug. An active lifestyle can improve your memory, increase your life span, and strengthen your heart and lungs. Still, if exercise isn’t already a part of your lifestyle, it can be difficult to find the time or motivation to start moving on a routine basis. Read on for three great reasons to start working out today.
1. Exercise Can Improve Your Mental Health
The effects of regular exercise on mental and neurological health are varied and profound. Not only have researchers discovered that people who exercise regularly have better memories than their sedentary counterparts, they’ve also found that exercise may be an essential tool for managing mental health. In patients with depression, regular aerobic exercise was associated with a sustained, statistically significant improvement in mood. Further studies have demonstrated that other conditions, like attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and anxiety, also improve when aerobic exercise is incorporated into treatment. Most therapists now recommend exercise as a part of every patient’s ongoing treatment plan. While no qualified clinician would recommend exercise alone as a treatment for mental health issues, exercise is a helpful way to improve your mood quickly with few downsides.
Exercise is even a useful way to detox from drugs. Consistently working out enough to elevate your heart rate can reverse the loss of lean muscle mass, clear your arteries, and make your heart stronger. While physical activity can’t completely detox you from substances like drugs or alcohol, fitness is an important part of recovery for many people who have struggled with addiction.
2. Exercise Can Keep Your Bones Strong
Osteoporosis, a condition in which bones become more porous and fragile, is common in the elderly population. Unfortunately, the cost of falls, broken bones and fractures, increases as the years pass, as many seniors experience serious complications from broken bones and similar skeletal injuries. In a study conducted in Denmark, researchers found that patients over 50 who broke a bone were significantly more likely to die in the following 20 years than patients who did not.
Fortunately, osteoporosis and the dangers associated with it can often be prevented or mitigated with simple lifestyle changes – including exercise. Even if you can only fit it into your schedule a few times each week, weight-bearing exercise like resistance training or walking can increase your bone density. Combined with its other benefits, that means you can expect exercise to pay dividends now and many years down the road.
3. Exercise Can Help You Burn Weight While You Sleep
It sounds too good to be true, but consistent exercise can actually increase your resting caloric expenditure, which describes the number of calories you burn while your body is at rest. If you try to lose weight by eating less without adding exercise, your body may react by slowing down your metabolism to conserve energy. Combining an exercise program with caloric restrictions can counterbalance this natural effect and make your weight loss efforts healthier and more sustainable.
While exercise can’t solve every health problem, the research seems clear that you won’t live as healthy a lifestyle without it. Staying consistent is more important than the details of what you choose, so find your favorite type of exercise and get moving!